OECD Working Party on the Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology Met in April 2023
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
The July 2023 issue of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Chemical Safety and Biosafety Progress Report includes a summary of the April 2023 meeting of the Party on the Harmonization of Regulatory Oversight in Biotechnology (WP-HROB). During the meeting, WP-HROB agreed on next steps for preparing several consensus documents: “Environmental Considerations for Risk/Safety Assessment for the Release of Transgenic Plants” (led by the WP-HROB Bureau); “Revised Biology of Wheat” (led by Australia and the United States), both expected for publication in 2023; “Biology of the Mosquito Anopheles gambiae” (led by Australia, the African Union Development Agency — New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), and the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute (AFSI)); and “Photoautotrophic Micro-algae for Biomass Production” (led by Canada and the United States). In addition, WP-HROB agreed on two proposals for new projects on the biology of mosquitoes, Anopheles albimanus and Anopheles stephensi (led by the United Kingdom, Brazil, and AUDA-NEPAD).
Three projects jointly developed by WP-HROB and the Working Party for the Safety of Novel Foods and Feeds (WP-SNFF) were reviewed at a joint session in April 2023:
- Revision of the OECD Council Recommendation on the safety of recombinant DNA organisms (2006), for which a revised draft was provisionally agreed for most provisions. A progress report will be delivered at the Chemicals and Biotechnology Committee (CBC) meeting in July 2023;
- Enhanced information exchange on new breeding techniques, for which a first set of information has been collected from delegations through a questionnaire; and
- The proposal on the “Safer-Innovation-Approach” in biotechnology, which was formally approved by WP-HROB in follow-up to a two-year pilot project.
The OECD Product Database, containing information on genetically engineered plant varieties approved for cultivation or use in foods and feeds, continues to be updated. A total of 393 entries of 26 crops, flowers, and trees are now available in the system, keeping pace with new information provided by OECD member countries, as well as a number of non-members.